East Africa: EAC Gets Labs for Communicable Diseases

THE East African Community (EAC) has launched the second phase of the Regional Network of Public Health Reference Laboratories for communicable diseases project.

Funded by the Federal Government of Germany through the German Development Bank (KfW), the three year second phase of the project will strengthen the capacity of the EAC partner states to respond to outbreaks of infectious diseases, including bacterial and cross-border epidemics.

The Senior Public Relations Officer at the Corporate Communications and Public Affairs, EAC Secretariat, Mr Peter Owaka noted that the project will also have a special focus on Anti-Microbial Resistance (AMR) surveillance.

The main agencies in implementation of the project in the partner states are the National Health Laboratory Quality Assurance and Training Centre of Tanzania; Institut National de Santé Publique du Burundi and National Public Health Laboratory of Kenya.

Others are the National Reference Laboratory, Rwanda; National Public Health Laboratory and National Blood Transfusion Service, South Sudan, and Central Public Health Laboratories of Uganda.

Mr Owaka noted that during its implementation, the project will focus on procurement of six container-based mobile laboratory units and equipment for bacterial culture and mobile field sequencing/bioinformatics for rapid pathogen identification and AMR testing. Others items are consumables and test kits and high clearance all-terrain vehicles for transporting the container-based laboratory.

The focus will also be on training of the EAC partner states' public health laboratory personnel to the required level of competency to operate the container-based mobile laboratories for AMR surveillance.

This comes as EAC partner states seem to be towards speaking the same language when it comes to containing infectious diseases.

There will also be an upgrading and maintenance of the Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS) developed during the first phase and integration of the container-based laboratories to facilitate data/information transfer from/to the field sites.

Focus will also be on regional coordination and policy dialogue through the EAC Secretariat for exchange of experiences and knowledge and provision of technical and procurement support to the EAC as the PAE through Bernhard-Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine (BNITM).

The EAC Regional Network of Public Health Reference Laboratories for Communicable Diseases Project is in line with the EAC 'One Health' approach in disease management.

The 'One Health' approach involves all sectors of society that will be affected by a disease outbreak.

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